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To Terraform Mars will be harder than thought

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posted on Jul, 30 2018 @ 11:49 AM
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Everyone who has gazed at Mars with the dream of settling there has always pondered the idea of terraforming the world. That is to say, can we turn Mars into a second Earth, or close enough, so that people can walk the surface of the planet without spacesuits and live like we do here on Earth. There have been many science fiction stories written on the subject and, even though I don't care for the books, one of the highest among them is Kim Stalney Robinson's Red Mars trilogy.

More recently, Elon Musk and other have suggested terraforming Mars as well. It makes sense from the POV of giving humanity a second home and also from the POV of all that extra room. Mars has the same surface area as the land area of the Earth, more or less, and even with oceans covering 60% of the surface after terraforming, that's a lot of new land for the taking. it would never be as balmy as most of Earth, but it would be a new world free of worries whether or not someone else is getting squished when you settle the land. Call the New World Guilt Free.

Reality, however, has a way of interfering with one's dreams: there has been some recent results that have been...less than encouraging.

There are two really big issues for terraforming Mars (so far). The first was first that the Phoenix lander and then the Curiosity rover found that the planet has a LOT of perchlorates in the soil. By weight, they appear to be .5%. That doesn't sound like alot, but perchlorates are toxic to people. Mars is far beyond a superfund site and having kids there would be beyond risky.

The second problem was known, but not confirmed to be as bad as it is..until now. Mars lost its atmosphere. Folks originally thought it had been sequestered in the rocks in the form of carbonates. It wasn't.



New research shows that Mars actually outright lost its atmosphere. It was not sequestered. The total amount of carbon dioxide sequestered, whether in the ice caps or in the few carbonates found, will only raise the atmospheric pressure on Mars to about 7% of earth sea level. That's the equivalent, roughly, of being at 61,000 feet here on Earth. Pressure suits are still required.

To fix this, any would be terraformer will need to bring in something the size or mass of a large Kuiper Belt object. Something like Quaoar would work. Comets are simply too small. However, getting a Kuiper Belt Object to Mars will require insane amounts of energy and you better do it both gently and not miss. Something that big wandering around the Inner Solar System would be...disastrous.

Even then, once you have an ocean and atmosphere, you have a toxic mess to clean up. Those perchlorates are going to react with all the nonwater volatiles you brought in: Mars is, in many ways, the Clorox Planet. And what did your parents say about mixing ammonia and bleach? yeah. Now imagine on a planetary scale. That will require importing ridiculous amounts of raw sodium (as in the metal) to produce salts and also lots and lots of the bacteria (which I hope will survive in that atmosphere) that process the perchlorates.

Mars is going to be tough to terraform, no matter what.




posted on Jul, 30 2018 @ 11:58 AM
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Just let China locate their factories on Mars.
That should increase CO2 and other greenhouse gasses considerably.


edit on 30/7/2018 by Soylent Green Is People because: (no reason given)



posted on Jul, 30 2018 @ 12:16 PM
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Terra forming was never going to be easy or simple. The first problem that has to be addressed, is that the core of Mars will have to be started to form a magnetic field to protect any and all life form. This would increase the gravity of the planet and allow for the retention of any atmosphere.

The next problem will be water and the clean up of the environment, that would require a bit of nudging, and moving things like comets to strike the planet, adding both mass, but materials into position. With the increase in mass, and water, then it is a matter of using simple plants to start the process of cleaning up the environment.

Any living on Mars would have to live in habitats. But here again, there will need to be a supply of both water and air, to keep life going, until it can be self sustaining. It will take years to make it permanent, and deal with all of the natural problem.



posted on Jul, 30 2018 @ 12:24 PM
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a reply to: Soylent Green Is People

That made me laugh more than it probably should have.

Well played.



posted on Jul, 30 2018 @ 12:26 PM
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I don't and never have understood even considering terra-forming Mars except when I was reading Heinlein back in the early sixties. Back then we didn't have the technology but it was fun to fantasize about. As the decades have crept by it is clear that we still to not have nor will anytime soon have the ability to do that job. Besides, we are to busy terra-forming Earth into a big parking lot. That we can do.



posted on Jul, 30 2018 @ 12:53 PM
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Wait a minute.
We are supposed to believe that we can terraform a planet millions of miles away but for some reason we can't do it to the planet we live on?



posted on Jul, 30 2018 @ 12:55 PM
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a reply to: anzha




We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard.
-JFK


And who knows , we might see a new technology come out in the next few years that solves a lot of the difficult problems.

We should never give up just because something seems difficult.



posted on Jul, 30 2018 @ 12:58 PM
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originally posted by: Bluntone22
Wait a minute.
We are supposed to believe that we can terraform a planet millions of miles away but for some reason we can't do it to the planet we live on?



It's not that we can't do it here it's more about not knowing the repercussions of messing with an already thriving ecosystem.

Much safer to teraform a world with no ecosystem to mess up than it would be to change things on a planet full of life like earth.

trust me you want them to get it right on mars before they start messing with earth.



posted on Jul, 30 2018 @ 12:59 PM
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a reply to: sdcigarpig

A magnetic field isn't required for terraforming on the million year time scale. It would take longer than that for the atmosphere to erode once it has been brought up to sea level pressure to requiring pressure suits again. The Moon would keep an atmoesphere for at least 10,000 years and human civilization has barely existed for that long at all.

Why would restarting the core of Mars increase the gravity? Gravity and temperature are not related unless you are planning on dumping in exatons of radioactive material...

There are not enough comets to make it worthwhile to hunt them down to use on Mars for terraforming. A Kuiper Belt Object (whether mined and sent in as discreet payloads or all together) makes far, far more sense for water and other volatiles. Ceres would make more sense than comets do.

Totally agree about clean up though. Losing its water and its atmosphere has made Mars into light years beyond a superfund site. At least Venus is worse.



posted on Jul, 30 2018 @ 01:14 PM
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a reply to: scraedtosleep

Don't worry. Geoengineering is coming.



posted on Jul, 30 2018 @ 01:49 PM
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originally posted by: sdcigarpig
Terra forming was never going to be easy or simple. The first problem that has to be addressed, is that the core of Mars will have to be started to form a magnetic field to protect any and all life form. This would increase the gravity of the planet and allow for the retention of any atmosphere.


So, in order to do this, we could send all the BS on planet earth to the core of Mars to make it more massive. We have way more BS here than we know what to do with. Enough to fill another planet.



posted on Jul, 30 2018 @ 02:24 PM
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a reply to: anzha

Trying to terraform Mars is by far and away the dumbest idea I've ever heard of! It sounds like something Maxine Waters or Sheila Jackson Lee would propose.

The only way for humans to successfully inhabit Mars would be underground; they need to find a caves and Caverns systems in Mars.........not on it. Trying to occupy the surface is beyond dumb. Have you seen their massive sand storms? Everything would be destroyed.



posted on Jul, 30 2018 @ 02:32 PM
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phys.org, March 2017 - NASA proposes a magnetic shield to protect Mars' atmosphere.

That was last year. A lot of brain power went into the idea of placing a 1-T or 2-T dipole magnet at Mars Lagrange point 1. That would allow Mars' atmosphere to stop being leaked into space. It would take years. And if anybody goes to Mars, they are probably going to need a localized one to protect them anyway.

Funny how one year later there is story about not being possible when last year they had an article explaining how it could be done! Oh well, sell more ads for the websites I guess!

I know it is self-centered of me but I swear phys.org punks me sometimes!!



posted on Jul, 30 2018 @ 02:43 PM
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a reply to: TEOTWAWKIAIFF

Um. I was talking about restarting the magnetic field (ie the core), not the shield NASA proposed.

A separate magnetic shield is different from Mars' magnetic field.



posted on Jul, 30 2018 @ 02:44 PM
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a reply to: TonyS

Its been proposed by lots of people for ages.

Actually, Waters et al would be against it, so your politics align with her camp nicely here.



posted on Jul, 30 2018 @ 03:22 PM
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originally posted by: TEOTWAWKIAIFF
phys.org, March 2017 - NASA proposes a magnetic shield to protect Mars' atmosphere.

That was last year. A lot of brain power went into the idea of placing a 1-T or 2-T dipole magnet at Mars Lagrange point 1. That would allow Mars' atmosphere to stop being leaked into space. It would take years. And if anybody goes to Mars, they are probably going to need a localized one to protect them anyway.

Funny how one year later there is story about not being possible when last year they had an article explaining how it could be done! Oh well, sell more ads for the websites I guess!

I know it is self-centered of me but I swear phys.org punks me sometimes!!


Interesting. What you'll get is essentially a magnetic sail though. So it would have to be placed at a slight offset to L1 to account for the solar wind thrust. Pretty cool idea nonetheless.



posted on Jul, 30 2018 @ 03:23 PM
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Not really.

Just a few dozen coal plants, and conventional tillage and in a less than 100 years.

Martians will be screaming global warming!



posted on Jul, 30 2018 @ 03:27 PM
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a reply to: anzha


Oh. Restart the core! That all??

Mars' magnetic field is a mess! Wonder what happened to it in the first place? Maybe a whole brand new one is needed. An extremely complex issue that is beyond my pay grade! All I can add is more to the "science fiction" rather give a real solution!

nasa.gov - NASA’s MAVEN Mission Finds Mars Has a Twisted Tail.

Gives you perspective on our little planet when having to do planet-wide thinking. I am going to go hug a tree now and issue a silent prayer for our magnetic field and what they provide us!



posted on Jul, 30 2018 @ 03:36 PM
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a reply to: anzha

That's if humanity goes full scale. Chances are there will be small habitats first...utilizing caves (if they are found) and other natural protection; ie crater walls/cliff faces and such. Humanity needs to build shelter from those huge and long lasting Martian sand storms.

The trials and tribulations of terraforming on a smaller scale can be upsized gradually to larger areas. The smaller habitats can be gradually increased in size and scope. (Think greenhouse, then linked greenhouses.) As for the perchlorates; well that's why humanity needs to build dozens or hundreds of smaller test sites to see what works, within the Martian landscape.

Personally I don't believe that Mars will ever be a big blue marble in our system...but it could have patches of blue, surrounded by red sands.



posted on Jul, 30 2018 @ 03:54 PM
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It would be nice to locate a few asteroids of frozen o2, co2, and h2o, and put them on a path for re-entery near the equator. The heat friction could melt the chemical ice and rain onto the surface. Perhaps we could even nudge Mars a little closer to the sun using the impacters.10 or 15 asteroids in the 5 cubic mile size should do nicely.
It’s fun to dream.




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